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Sipping wine on the dock at Perch Lake with nothing to break the quiet but the chorus of bullfrogs, time slows down - settling into a new rhythm. Peaceful uninterrupted nights give way to still mornings, and the wine changes to coffee, warming hands as the mist rises off the northwest Michigan lake. With its wooded shore and proximity to the state forest, Perch Lake feels like a step away from civilization into a calmer, more restful time.
Tucked away in the Northwest Region of Michigan in Grand Traverse County, Perch Lake covers 40 surface acres. No motor boats are allowed on the lake, preserving its natural charm. Its tree-lined shore and white sand beaches make it the perfect lake to explore by canoe or kayak and for swimming. The lake is full of fish and has healthy populations of bluegill, perch, pike and bass to challenge anglers. In the winter, ice fishing is popular on Perch Lake. The Boardman River, near the lake, also offers visitors a chance to canoe and fish.
Perch Lake is surrounded by the Traverse City State Forest. The 330,000-acre forest has trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding and includes the Seven Bridges Natural Area. Spanning parts of the Rapid River, a fantastic trout stream, the natural area was created around the river's rustic wooden bridges. Only four bridges remain, all of which were rebuilt by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The state forest also includes the 3,300-acre Skemog Swamp Wildlife Area. It is a great place to explore a swamp environment and see the mink, otters, beavers, herons, egrets and songbirds that make the swamp their home. The wildlife area encompasses seven miles of shoreline along the Torch River and Skemog Lake. Boardwalks across the swamp provide visitors access to it and two viewing platforms to see the swamp wildlife.
Although Perch Lake may seem like a natural, wilderness lake, it is only 20 miles east of Traverse City. Known for the cherry orchards that line part of the Grand Traverse Bay off Lake Michigan, Traverse City is the self-proclaimed "Cherry Capital of the World." Originally established to support the freighters that used the Manitou Passage between the mainland and the Manitou Islands, today the city has restaurants, charming shops and a variety of accommodations. Five nearby lighthouses, four of which are open for tours, offer visitors a chance to explore the region's rich maritime history. At two of the lighthouses visitors are even allowed to serve as volunteer lighthouse keepers.
Perch Lake has waterfront vacation rentals and real estate available for sale. The surrounding forest and wooded shore, however, makes it seem almost uninhabited. With amenities as close as Traverse City, visitors can relax at Perch Lake, star gazing and listening to the frogs sing the night to sleep, while at the same time having easy access to anything they might want or need. Add the ice fishing and nearby skiing, and Perch Lake becomes a four season destination with something to please everyone. This northwest Michigan lake is sure to call visitors to its shores year after year.
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